Blood supplies low following harsh winter

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Students studying law at Widener University’s Harrisburg campus dabbled in medicine Thursday afternoon.

An American Red Cross bloodmobile was parked out front and doing a brisk business.

“I have an innate fear of needles,” laughed third-year student Ashley Yagielniskie as blood flowed through a tube from her arm to a collection bag.

Ashley had never donated blood before, but summoned the courage to overcome her fears.

“About four-and-a-half years ago, my dad was in a severe motorcycle accident and he actually lost a lot of blood,” Ashley said, “so I felt it was my duty to help other people because they helped him.”

It wasn’t just students rolling up their sleeves in the blood bus. Harrisburg Symphony conductor Stuart Malina gets that citizens need to give. He’s a frequent donor.

“I honestly think giving blood is one of the easiest things you can do,” Malina said with his trademark infectious enthusiasm. “We have an endless supply, the hospitals do not.”

Supplies are especially short following the snow and cold of winter, and the flu, which stops donors from giving.

“People are busy,” said Colin Riccobon, a spokesman for the American Red Cross. “The holidays come around, the cold weather comes around, and regular donors can get sick.”

The reality is most of us can give blood. The fact is, most of us don’t.

“You don’t need superpowers or a cape to be an everyday hero,” Riccobon said. “What you see here today is people rolling up their sleeves, making a difference for patients that depend on donors every single day.”

March is Red Cross month. I rolled up my sleeves and donated. It took less than a half hour and it didn’t hurt.

But for those in need, it sure does help.

“I know so many people whose lives have been saved by blood transfusions,” Malina said. “This is a no-brainer, something that takes so little and does so much.”

For more information about blood donations, go to www.redcrossblood.org.

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